Remember when I said one of our main goals for EBS was to connect women in medicine? I think that in some ways, we didn’t fully meet this goal. We did a great job of connecting female medical students with female physicians. But looking back, I realized that we made no attempt to connect women across all of healthcare, which made me wonder if this is actually a much larger problem. So I met up with a friend of mine, Kate, who is currently a nurse working in an ICU and also studying to become a nurse practitioner. We chatted about the relationship between nurses and doctors that Kate has experienced, as well as the differences in respect granted to female and male physicians.
“These types of physicians are also the type that regularly seek feedback. They will ask the nurses whether the action performed on the patient made any impact, or if it was comfortable for the patient. Nurses have practical, real time feedback about the basic function of the patient. And these moments of feedback and different perspectives lead to huge opportunities for growth from all sides. As a result, these physicians’ opinions are highly valued because they actually care about the patient, so when they ask for something I will do it immediately. I never worry that the patient’s care is being compromised in any way with these physicians. And this definitely isn’t a gender matter, but a personality difference.”
...these moments of feedback and different perspectives lead to huge opportunities for growth from all sides."
I wondered if this mentality resonated across her team, or if she was the exception. While there is always a spread of personalities and approaches, she said that generally, those physicians that care the most get the greatest respect and are easiest to work with. She acknowledges that some nurses get along better with male physicians if there is any sort of physical attraction, but sexual tension between doctors and nurses is really over-hyped in the media. She mentions that rather, the bigger problem that arises too often is the inability to set egos aside. “There are too many physicians and nurses who cannot do this and assume that he or she knows best at all times. However, I have learned that (patiently) taking the time to explain my perspective has helped me more than anything. Because ultimately, these people are still on your team and working with them is actually your only choice.”